Who Were the “Mixed Multitude” Who Joined Israel in the Exodus?

In tomorrow’s Torah reading, the Bible states that, when the Jews went out of Egypt, a “mixed multitude” (erev rav) accompanied them. At least, this is how the King James Bible and most traditional Jewish commentaries understand the phrase, taking its first word (erev) to mean “mixture” and the second (rav) to mean “many” or “numerous.” David Zucker explains some of the other possibilities:

Shaul Bar, professor of Bible at the University of Memphis, notes that in a number of biblical contexts the term erev seems to refer to soldiers. Similarly, Israel Knohl, professor emeritus of Bible at the Hebrew University, suggests that it may be a cognate of the Akkadian urbi, which refers to a type of soldier.

[In addition], many scholars are skeptical that the word rav here really means “many.” The term has reduplicative quality, with the letters resh and bet being repeated: erev rav. Thus, [the Italian rabbi and scholar] Umberto Cassuto (1883–1951) writes in his commentary on Exodus [that] “the correct view is that which regards the expression erev rav as a single word from the stem arav,” [meaning “to mix”]. In fact, in the Samaritan Pentateuch, the term is written as one word, aravrav. If this is the origin of the term, then the Torah is making no comment at all on the size of the group.

This reading in fact strengthens the traditional interpretation that equates the erev rav with the asafsuf—also a “mixed multitude” in the King James Version—of Numbers 11:4. While ancient and medieval commentaries believe this group comprised Egyptians who chose to throw in their lot with the Israelites after seeing God’s power, two prominent modern rabbinic authorities have argued that these were Egyptians who had married Israelites. To the Zohar, meanwhile, they were a group of renegade magicians.

Read more at theTorah.com

More about: Biblical commentary, Biblical Hebrew, Exodus, Hebrew Bible, Zohar

How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy